Shot of Banksy in “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (image from

As soon as the announcement came that Banksy’s documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar, a churning online rumor mill debated if he would accept the award in person or remain anonymous. No one had a chance to find out what Banksy would do, though, because last night the artist’s film lost to a documentary about banking and the financial crisis.

Inside Job, a portrayal of big-banking and the financial industry’s contribution to the recession, seems a much less remarkable choice than Banksy’s highly contentious work about Mr. Brainwash, an aspiring art starfucker street artist who uses money over artistic talent to make a shot at street art word fame. But then I have to say I’m glad that the documentary award went to a film more committed to real life and realism.

Funny enough, another visual artist was also featured in the contest for Best Documentary. Lucy Walker’s film Waste Land followed Brazilian artist Vik Muniz in his work at the Jardim Gramacho landfill in Rio de Janeiro, working with trash pickers to produce massive portraits of those same low-level employees in the I-Spy assemblage style that dominates the artist’s work.

The only Oscar nod made to Banksy and the controversy he inspired came not during the announcement of nominees for best documentary but in a random moment in one of Justin Timberlake’s award-giving monologues. In a short, off-beat aside, Timberlake admitted that he is Banksy. You know, I could almost believe it.

Check out Hyperallergic’s review of Exit Through the Gift Shop, plus our announcement of the nomination, and decide for yourself if the film sounds worthy. Also see the Oscars hosts’ introductory video below. I can’t say anyone missed much of a performance from fellow wannabe-artist James Franco; the guy appeared to be stoned the entire time. Which is befitting for a polymath of his stature, I guess.

UPDATE: Even if Franco & Banksy were not victorious in the arena of Oscar, they sure were victors in the Twitterverse. TechCrunch has the stats.

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly, Kill Screen, Creators...

3 replies on “Banksy Loses Documentary Oscar to Inside Job [UPDATE]”

  1. I think Justin Timberlake also made the claim to be Bansky.
    The show is such a blur to me now with the fade to The Wizard of Oz

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